Win a luxury hotel stay at the five-star Rixos Premium Magawish Suites and Villas in Egypt

Dressing to impress: The etiquette guide for wedding guests

Choosing what to wear for a wedding can be tricky, so we’ve listed everything you need to consider to dress appropriately.

By LLM Reporters  |  July 4, 2022
Wedding guests

Everyone loves a good celebration, and for the happy couple, their wedding day is likely to be one of the biggest and best of their lives. The wedding dress ensures a bride feels like a million dollars when walking down the aisle and it’s certain to become a hot topic amongst the guests. With this in mind, upstaging the bride is widely viewed as a huge no-no, whether intentionally (you wouldn’t, would you?) or by complete accident, so choosing your outfit as a friend or family member should be done with great care. And it isn’t just the female guests who should be considerate when choosing their attire for the occasion, as there are some rules males should be ready to adhere to as well.

It’s only natural to want to feel fabulous yourself when attending the nuptials – after all, it isn’t every day you have an excuse to get dressed up to the nines and dance the night away in celebration of people you care about – and the good news, you can still have plenty of fun choosing dresses for wedding guests. So bear in mind these simple rules of thumb, and get set to scour your favourite designer boutiques in search of a special outfit to see you through the day in style – because it’s officially wedding season!

Avoid informal attire

groom and guests
It likely goes without saying, but turning up in athleisure, trainers or a slogan t-shirt will detract from the occasion and could upset the bride and groom

You might not get to be the star of the show on this particular day, but failing to make any effort at all is unacceptable, so avoid wearing scruffy or informal attire at all costs. It likely goes without saying, but turning up in athleisure, trainers or a slogan t-shirt will detract from the occasion and could upset the bride and groom, so make sure you’re not flaunting the dress code in the name of making a statement.

On that note, some couples might specify on their invitations what type of attire they expect their guests to come in – but the majority won’t, so it’s up to you to get to know the etiquette to avoid putting your foot in it. Skimpy skirts and dresses, shorts, flip flops and denim, for example, are all absolute no-nos.

Choose your colours carefully

Bride with four happy bridesmaids toasting at the wedding reception outside
As tradition states, never wear white to a wedding, as that colour is strictly for the bride

For female guests, the colour white is off limits at weddings, so be sure to adhere to this particular rule to avoid upstaging the bride. Other than that, you are pretty much free to express yourself, although head-to-toe black – the colour of mourning – generally doesn’t tend to be favoured. You may also want to give anything sparkly, metallic or overtly flashy a miss and opt for something a little more demure – bold, bright colours and pastels are both fine and a particularly good choice during the spring and summer months, when whimsical floral prints are also a pretty and season appropriate look to go for.

For men, the same rules apply when it comes to colour, so while it might be tempting to wear a black tuxedo to ensure you’re adhering to the requirements for formal attire, opting for a suit in navy, grey or a pastel hue is a safer bet.

Don’t forget comfort

wedding guests
While feeling fantastic might be your priority when you first head out of the door to celebrate, you may come to regret your sky-high heels and body-con dress later on, so choosing an outfit that is comfortable as well as beautiful is key

While feeling fantastic might be your priority when you first head out of the door to celebrate, you may come to regret your sky-high heels and body-con dress later on, so choosing an outfit that is comfortable as well as beautiful is key.

Weddings generally tend to include a lot of eating and plenty of dancing, too – so bear this in mind when getting dressed and opt for something loose fitting, or with a forgiving waistline, and put some flat pumps in your designer handbag to chance into later on should those stilettos become a little too much to bear. Better yet, opt for a more sensible style of shoe in the first place to avoid painful blisters and aching feet – a medium-height, block heel is a great choice.

While men might be tempted to pop on their trainers, even your swankiest designer pair won’t cut it – but a smart pair of loafers or brogues that don’t press down on your toes after a while wearing them will look good and keep your feet comfy, too.